International Journal of CommunicationPublishes a Forum on Gandy’s The Panoptic Sort

International Journal of Communication Publishes a Forum on Gandy’s The Panoptic Sort

When Oscar H. Gandy, Jr.’s The Panoptic Sort was published in 1993, it was unquestionably prescient. Remember, in 1993 the World Wide Web had not yet become a familiar part of the landscape; Steve Jobs was in his NeXt interlude between Apple stints; googol was a large number; Microsoft Windows 95 was two years away; and Mark Zuckerberg was in middle school. In other words, this was a prehistoric era in cyber time.

Before the entire, now familiar, structure of the Internet was in place, Gandy was connecting the dots and identifying dangers that were only faintly visible. With a perspective honed by political economy and an unerring understanding of the predictable workings of capitalist logic, Gandy was able to issue an early warning. Of course, as usually happens, the voice of Cassandra was drowned out by the chorus of techno-optimism and futuristic dreams of the wonders to come.  

Today, we are all familiar with the critiques of surveillance capitalism, and we nod in agreement with the dire warnings now commonplace in academic and popular accounts of the digital era. Of course, we are also scrolling through our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok feeds; buying too much from Amazon; and perhaps investing in the latest cybercurrency. We are worried, sometimes, about our privacy being invaded, our data being sold, our public sphere being corrupted by misinformation. 

Despite our newly acquired wariness and suspicion of the latest thing, we would do well to pay renewed—or new—attention to Gandy’s prescient account and analysis. Fortunately, Oxford University Press has issued a second edition of The Panoptic Sort, with a new foreward and afterword. To celebrate both the original and the new edition, we asked six scholars to reflect on the book and its continuing relevance and importance. This Forum includes commentary by Mike Ananny, John Cheney-Lippold, Kate Crawford, Lisa Nakamura, Joseph Turow, and Diami Virgilio, with an afterword by Oscar H. Gandy, Jr.  

We invite you to read these articles that published in the International Journal of Communication on March 6, 2022. Please log into to read the papers of interest. We look forward to your feedback! 

Forum on Gandy’s The Panoptic Sort—Introduction
Larry P. Gross

Reflections on The Panoptic Sort
Mike Ananny

Sorting the Future
John Cheney-Lippold

Lessons From The Panoptic Sort
Kate Crawford

The Panoptic Sort (2nd ed.): An Appreciation
Lisa Nakamura

Prescience and Integrity in The Panoptic Sort
Joseph Turow

A Turn to Gandy From Inside The Panoptic Sort 
Diami Virgilio

Oscar’s Comments on These Generous Reviews
Oscar H. Gandy, Jr. 

Larry Gross, Editor
Arlene Luck, Founding Managing Editor  
Kady Bell-Garcia, Managing Editor
Kasia Anderson, Managing Editor, Special Sections

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